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The growing argument for hiring a chief data officer

2nd Dec 2014
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A very crude search of LinkedIn suggests there are somewhere between 50 – 60 people in Chief Data Officers (CDO) positions in the UK.

The role is still an embryonic one across the globe, with most businesses recognising the importance of having a single unit in charge of their data, but struggling to implement a practical strategy for developing one.  

However, this may be about to change, with statistics from Experian stating that 92% of CIOs across the UK are “calling out for a CDO role (92%) to release the data pressures they face and enable a corporate wide approach to data management.”

In the research report, ‘Dawn of the CDO’, Experian interviewed 250 CIOs and 17 CDOs in the UK to establish that 90% of organisations say data is changing the way they do business, and that as a result, CIOs are facing major challenges with volumes of data (44%) and real-time processing (44%).

According to Gartner, CIOs are “responsible for planning, choosing, buying and installing a company’s computer and information processing operation”, and “not typically responsible for managing data”.

And with over half (58%) of CIOs expecting the volume of data their organisation needs to manage to increase on average, at a rate of 28%, the need for an executive-level data specialist to take charge of all organisational data is becoming a hotly-debated discussion in boardrooms across the country.

The issue is not resigned to CIOs – marketing departments are also struggling with getting to grips with data volume and active insights.

IDG recently surveyed marketers in the US to gauge what their top data concerns were and found the “difficulty of extracting insights” the top concern (42%). Poor data quality was second (23%), while excessive data, number of data sources, list development time and time spent on admin were also major concerns. 

And for many, the issue is being driven by a lack of any systematic approach to data, something a CDO is likely to bring to an organisation.  

According to research from Teradata, fewer than 10% of companies use their data in a systematic, strategic way. That is expected to change: 71% of marketers plan to implement a big data analytics solution in the next two years.

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